The loud banging of pots and pans outside my room woke me up with a start, instantly bringing me back to reality. Strange, how waking up in my own bed brought more confusion than had I woken up lying on the damp, mossy ground. It seems that I’m getting more used to the unusual escapades I’ve been engaging in these past few days.
It’s been six days since my adventure started. Who would’ve known that such a tattered, ancient book, found in a non-descript bookstore would bring me to worlds I had not even imagined!
At first, I was skeptical of that old, rundown place. It’s been there sitting on the corner of the street since forever. Yet I’ve never seen anyone go in or even come out of there. It was fast becoming an eyesore, too, what with all the new, modern buildings starting to rise beside it. But no one had ever complained about it and since it stayed in business for so long, I surmised that it must’ve been doing good. Still, had I not been caught in a thunderstorm that afternoon, I never would’ve gone inside.
And, boy, was I surprised when I stepped inside that decrepit book store! The façade was made of faded red bricks, cracked and chipped in several places, but its interior was a different story altogether. To say that it took my breath away would indeed be an understatement. It was heaven on earth for me!
Three of its four walls were lined with dark mahogany shelves, all filled with books in various sizes and thicknesses, wrapped in gold, brown, silver, red, green, blue, purple, and ochre. They were stacked neatly from the tiled flooring up to the high, vaulted ceiling. The only side that wasn’t filled with books held a wooden counter painted in black and adorned with gold filigree (of course that couldn’t really be gold, but still it looked magnificent) while its top was made of polished black marble. There was a golden bell resting beside an open, leather-bound tome and a large, brown feather quill dipped inside an inkpot. Smack in the middle of it all was a sitting area comprised of two poufy armchairs in chocolate-brown velvet, a worn-out leather couch and a large, round, coffee table made of what looked like a solid block of jade. This, too, was laden with books.
The size alone was overwhelming; I never even thought it would be this large!
I’ve swum with mermaids, battled Orc-like creatures, danced with Fairies, went treasure-hunting with a pirate, dined underground with dwarves, and even flew with the Eagle people! Yesterday, I rode out with knights looking for dragon eggs! I can’t wait to see where it would take me today.
Quickly donning my ripped jeans, loose sweatshirt and Keds, I hurriedly grabbed my backpack and rushed out of my room. I tiptoed carefully when I reached past the kitchen to avoid my mom. When I got safely out the door, I ran as fast as I could just in case mom came around searching for me.
I was nearly breathless when I reached my usual favorite spot in the park and was immediately peeved when I saw an old guy in a tattered coat already sitting on my bench. But, as I got closer, I noticed that the man was not really old. And he was not wearing a tattered coat. He was actually quite young with flowing silver hair and he was wearing a multi-colored robe.
When he looked up, I found myself looking at the most beautiful emerald-green eyes. He then smiled and gracefully rose to his feet. He was tall, almost a head taller than me. And very handsome.
“You have passed all the tests, my Princess. I have come to take you home,” he said as he put the box in my shaking hands.
“What tests?” I asked, slowly opening the box. Inside was a ring with the largest diamond I’d ever seen.
“The book that you’ve been reading brought you to the tests. And you passed them all.”
“I did? I didn’t know they were tests! So, what happens now?”
“So now, you have to marry me, Prince Ulrich of the Elven Kingdom of Willowood. My father placed that book in our old sanctuary hoping that it would find a suitable mate for me.”
“Wait! The book didn’t say anything about marrying an Elven Prince!”
“Yes, it did. Look at the first page,” Ulrich said, smiling smugly.
I grabbed the book from my backpack and opened it. And there it was, written in tiny, gold letters at the bottom of page 1 – “By reading this book, the reader agrees to undergo all tests and should she pass them all, that she would marry Prince Ulrich of Willowood.”
“See? I told you,” Ulrich said.
I slammed the book shut and fainted.